ESC in Poland - Planing a Festival in Rabka
I finished my gap year with a third European Solidarity Corps volunteer project.
But this project was different from the previous ones, because we were about 30 volunteers from Spain, Greece, Czech Republic, France and Germany. We all lived together in an old hotel in a small town called Rabka near Krakow. There we planned a Youth Festival for the young people in Rabka. As Rabka is a town with a lot of children, our goal was to show the young people that there are also offers for them, which give them a perspective in the small town and inform and inspire them about different topics.
This project is an ESK team, which means that you are part of a group of 30 volunteers and you only support the project for a maximum period of 59 days. So we were only about 6 weeks in Poland and can experience from these ESK teams but as many as we want.
In the first week we participated in workshops on topics like non-formal education or the development of an Escape Room. Then we collected ideas that fit the needs of the young people, such as workshops on sex education or sustainability. Then we divided ourselves into groups according to our interests. I was part of the sustainability group and the mental health group.
After that, it was on to developing the events. In the sustainability group, we developed an Escape Room where participants from 2050 had to travel back to the past and the current present and find sustainable solutions to save the future. In the mental health group, we organized a human library, meaning we found people from our team who wanted to talk about sensitive topics like depression or eating disorders. Then participants could book themselves a book for a certain amount of time to learn more about that topic.
In the last week the festival took place. Unfortunately, we didn't have so many Polish participants because it was the first time the project took place, we should have advertised more and we realized the festival during the pandemic. Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun because we could visit the events of the other volunteers instead.
In summary, it was a very intense experience that matured me personally a lot. We had a wonderful group dynamic and were able to discuss all topics from sustainability to open relationships, but without attacking the other person or being hurt. You always had to reflect on your own opinions and engage with all the other characters without bias. In addition, I learned many skills, such as how to develop an Escape Room.
And the best thing is still that I met incredibly great people from all over Europe to visit and who showed me what it means to have a European identity.